Labored in obscurity

Sailer has an interesting observation about rediscovered greatness. “Labored in obscurity” is logically impossible. Greatness can’t be rediscovered later unless the artist or author was important enough (not necessarily famous enough) to leave a body of work in collections or libraries, or a ‘school’ of proteges and followers.

The opposite is actually more common: Artists famous during their own lifetimes are totally and permanently forgotten. Clarence Kelland was a contemporary and competitor of Steinbeck. Both covered the same literary and geographical territory in roughly the same way. Kelland sold better than Steinbeck while alive, but nobody knows his name now.

I was thinking about this question in the context of Alphia Hart and old radio. My observation is that rediscovery stands a better chance when the work is NOT copyrighted or patented.

The simplest conclusion from both approaches: Greatness is not a meaningful or useful concept. Any worker who is competent enough to be appreciated SHOULD be appreciated and valued to some degree while he’s alive.

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his work.

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